In recent years, functional outcome has become a very salient target for intervention for individuals with severe mental illnesses. In particular, supported employment has generated substantial research as a means of facilitating return to competitive jobs for individuals with schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses. This article summarizes the design of an 18-month longitudinal study of IPS in the early course of schizophrenia. Improving and Predicting Work Outcome in Recent-Onset Schizophrenia and discusses the adaptations of the IPS model that were found important for this phase of the illness.
The purpose of this study was to describe the adaptation of the Individual Placement and Support model of supported employment to individuals with a recent first episode of schizophrenia or a related psychotic disorder.
All study participants were receiving outpatient psychiatric treatment at the UCLA Aftercare Research Program and were participants in the third phase of the Developmental Processes in Schizophrenic Disorders Project.
The study sample consisted of 69 individuals that were recruited from a variety of local Los Angeles area psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric clinics and through referrals from the UCLA outpatient service at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA.
A comparison of individuals who were randomized (n=69) to IPS or the Brokered treatment with those who were not randomized (n=18) reveals no statistically significant demographic differences between the two samples. Similarly the randomized individuals did not differ significantly from those who were not randomized in prior illness indicators or symptom severity at screening.
Given that the vocational goals of persons with a recent onset of schizophrenia often involve completion of schooling rather than only competitive employment, the principles of Individual Placement and Support were extended to include supported education. This extension involved initial evaluation of the most appropriate goal for individual participants, having the IPS specialist working on placement either with the participant or directly with educational and employment settings (depending on permitted disclosure and individual need), and follow-along support that included work with teachers and aid in study skills and course planning as well as typical supported employment activities. Work with family members also characterized this application of IPS.
The condition was Vocational rehabilitation through referral to traditional separate agencies(Brokered Vocational Rehabilitation.
A randomized controlled trial is comparing the combination of Individual Placement and Support and skills training with the Workplace
Fundamentals Module with the combination of brokered vocational rehabilitation and broad-based social skills training. Participants in the IPS condition have returned to school, competitive work, and combined school and work with approximately equal frequency.
Individual Placement and Support principles can be successfully extended to integrate supported education and supported employment within one treatment program. The distribution of return to school, work, or their combination in this group of individuals with recent-onset schizophrenia supports the view that an integrated program of supported education and supported employment fits this initial period of illness.